Gov. Eliot Spitzer signed a law June 6 strengthening penalties for human trafficking and providing help to victims, which the New York State Catholic Conference had called for during its annual Public Policy Day March 13.
The new law creates felony charges for those who engage in sex and labor trafficking and brings clarity to existing laws against prostitution tourism businesses.
The law provides victims with access to emergency temporary housing, health care, drug-addition treatment, translation services and job training. It also requires law enforcement to work with the federal government to get victims special visas allowing them to remain in the United States and become eligible for refugee assistance.
The law also creates an interagency task force to recommend best practices for training and outreach to the law-enforcement community and service providers. The task force will gather data on the number of victims and the effectiveness of the new law.